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Under some circumstances, federal employees can be laid off in targeted "reduction in force" plans, or RiF, after 30 days of government shutdown.
The current shutdown is an "emergency shutdown" in which federal government employees cannot be laid off in RiF actions.
But that scenario of hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs in the current shutdown won’t happen.
Federal statute requires agencies to take reduction-in-force (RiF) action against employees who have been furloughed for 30 days or more, but that only applies in administrative furloughs, “a planned event by an agency which is designed to absorb reductions necessitated by downsizing, reduced funding, lack of work, or any budget situation other than a lapse in appropriations.”
Furloughs of federal workers as a result of lapses in appropriation are called “emergency furloughs.” According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, reduction-in-force regulations don’t apply in such events:
“Reductions in force (RIF) furlough regulations and SES competitive furlough requirements are not applicable to emergency shutdown furloughs because the ultimate duration of an emergency shutdown furlough is unknown at the outset and is dependent entirely on Congressional action, rather than agency action. The RIF furlough regulations and SES competitive furlough requirements, on the other hand, contemplate planned, foreseeable, money-saving furloughs that, at the outset, are planned to exceed 30 days.”
As of this writing on 17 January 2019, the federal government is entering its 27th day of partial shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, and the result of an impasse reached between President Donald Trump and Democratic members of Congress over Trump’s demand to include $5.7 billion in appropriations for new U.S.-Mexico border-wall construction. The shutdown has resulted in 800,000 federal employees going without pay, thousands of whom who have been ordered back to work anyway.
A new statement from the Office of Management and Budget provides cold comfort for federal bureaucrats worried that furloughs during the partial shutdown could become permanent layoffs, as long as Democrats refuse to give in and fund the border barrier.
There will be no immediate layoffs (what the federal government calls reductions in force – or RIFs) if and when the current partial shutdown passes the 30-day mark in four more days. As I explained yesterday in "Trump's shutdown trap?," federal law requires RIFs when federal employees are furloughed more than 30 days.
But after the matter was raised and widely discussed, the OMB issued a statement that indicates that it would require an actual reorganization plan that would make furloughed positions permanently identified as unnecessary, in order for the furloughs to be RIFed. Nicole Ogrysko writes in
This emphatically does not rule out the shutdown trap hypothesis that I presented. It will take some time for reorganization plans to be prepared, but once they are revealed after the 30-day deadline is reached, the "shutdown furloughs" become "administrative furloughs," and the RIF layoffs are possible.
If this plan is followed and a downsizing proposal is officially revealed, Trump either gets an end to the shutdown or gets to downsize the federal bureaucracy.